In a rehearsal room at St. Ann’s Warehouse, the Brooklyn Bridge looming and lit in the encroaching darkness of a recent late afternoon, the performer Penny Arcade recalled the counsel of her close friend Quentin Crisp, the great British wit and “naked civil servant,” who famously made New York his home. “Miss Arcade, not to worry,” Crisp told her in that wonderfully feathery, arch voice of his, which she perfectly impersonates. “Time is kind to the non-conformist.” Arcade had been talking to Crisp, and today to me, about her lack of mainstream success, or “access,” as she calls it, despite performing for nearly 50 years, most famously in her ’90s show Bitch! Dyke Faghag! Whore!, a stirring polemic with backup dancers that covered everything from prostitution to the once-exalted mantle of “fag hag,” which she wore with pride. The label given to women who gravitated to gay men meant so much more than those women being accessories or desperate, she said. Arcade, who is performing her latest show, Longing Lasts Longer, at St. Ann’s from Dec. 1 to 11, may be known as “the queen of the underground,” but her renown on the downtown New York arts scene and on… Read full this story
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